Another day draws to a close as the Ecuadorian sun sinks behind the mountains. So it’s a good time to reflect on today’s events. Today was the first day of our work week and this year we did something entirely different on the first day. Normally, we just hit the ground running with clinics, but today we took time to begin to teach and train local church members health care basics.
We didn’t really know what to expect. We knew that several church members wanted to learn about health care. And we knew that we wanted to teach these Ecuadorians basic skills and basic healthcare information. But how it should be done and how would it be received were two very big unknowns. But we prepared discussions on hygiene, taking vital signs, managing basic injuries with first aid, and other topics anyway.
Well, this time teaching ended up being a joy. We had eager learners sit through teaching sessions provided by our team members all morning. We taught about body temperature and fever – what that means and how to take it. We taught through how to take heart rates and what can causes a heart rate to change. We taught through blood pressure. That was a challenge. How do you teach what blood pressure is and why it matters to people who have very limited understanding of health care and who speak a different language? Lots of patience and lots of laughs 🙂 We explained that all these things, if abnormal, can be an indication that something is wrong in a person and that that person may need a doctor.
But we also had engaged learners asking great questions wanting to know more. We also learned some things. For example, as we were discussing basic first aid for open cuts and wounds, we asked how people normally take care of a cut and found out that typically egg white was applied to the area. That was certainly new and different! And also not sanitary so we addressed that issue.
After lunch we all reviewed the material and broke into small groups and began to actually practice taking vital signs. We moved from informational to practical. And this was probably the most fun part of the day because the church members did really well! They rose to the occasion and they really began to understand and apply the information. They began to be very accurate and proficient in collecting vital sign data. In fact, one man would not stop taking blood pressures until he heard exact numbers one of our team members heard in the teaching stethoscope!
This time may prove to be one of the more impactful days of the entire week. We were able to excite people about health care and provide a knowledge base that they can begin to use in their own context and own ministry. One young girl told us that she wants to be a nurse and now she is inspired to continue to pursue that desire. We had others who were just excited to learn something new so who knows how God may use that for His glory. And finally, we were able to initiate an additional avenue for us to work side by side together in the clinic for the sake of the gospel.
I thought of the story in Acts 3 when Peter and John are walking toward the temple to pray and they meet a man who couldn’t walk. That man was a beggar because of his condition and so he called out to Peter and John and asked them to give him money. Peter and John locked eyes with this man and he fully expected to receive something but Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I have I give to you.”
Like this passage what a privilege it was to impart the knowledge and skill that God has given us. And what a lesson for us to recognize that no matter if we are home in the CSRA or in another country we all have skills that can be used to encourage, train, inspire, and propagate the gospel to those around us. Pray that the Lord would commend the works of our hands and pray for all of us as we work together in our first clinic day tomorrow.